Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call on Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution has created a kind of controversy, just hours before his scheduled meeting with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political group, on Wednesday. Erdogan noted that secularism does not mean renouncing religion. “A secular state respects all religions,” Erdogan said in an interview with an Egyptian private satellite TV channel prior to his visit to Egypt.
“Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt,” Erdogan said. He stressed that people have the right to choose whether or not to be religious, adding that he is a Muslim prime minister for a secular state. Dr Mahmoud Ghuzlan, the spokesman of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, considered Erdogan’s comments as interference in Egypt’s local affairs. Ghuzlan was quoted by an Egyptian newspaper as saying that the experiments of other countries should not be cloned. “Turkey’s conditions imposed on it to deal with the secular concept,” he said. Erdogan said Egypt needs to meet some requirements for establishing a modern state, including better management of human resources, more attention to education, improved management of financial resources and eliminating corruption. The idea of adopting a secular system for Egypt has fueled controversy between the country’s liberal and Islamist powers since the Jan. 25 revolution. Liberal and secular groups fear an Islamist takeover of the parliament through the upcoming elections scheduled for November. They fear such a takeover would give Islamists control over the drafting of the constitution.